Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Santa Barbara County, California
Santa Barbara County is a county located on the Pacific coast of Southern California, in the state of California, just west of Ventura County. There is a movement afoot to divide the northern part of the county from the south. As of 2000 the county had a population of 399,347. The county seat is Santa Barbara.
The Santa Barbara Channel received its name from Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino when he sailed over the channel waters in 1602; he entered the channel on December 4, the day of the feast of Santa Barbara. He was not, however, the first European to enter the channel: that honor went to the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who arrived in 1542.
In recent years, residents of the northern half of the county have agitated for the county to be split in half, claiming that the southern half of the county ignores their needs. A proposed "Mission County" would be formed from the northern half.
Politically the county has long been divided between competing interests, for the economies of the north and south counties are dramatically different. North of the Santa Ynez Mountains, agricultural activities and oil development have long predominated, though in recent years oil leases have been decommissioned, and more white-collar workers have been moving in as people choose to live in north county and commute to the south county because of the relatively favorable housing prices in the north. On the other hand, the south county has had an economy based on tourism, but with a significant percentage of people with white-collar jobs, formerly in aerospace but more recently in software and other high-tech pursuits. Additionally, the north county contains a large military base--Vandenberg Air Force Base--and the south county has one of the most notorious "party schools" in the United States, the University of California, Santa Barbara. The voting record of north and south counties has indeed shown a profound split between a "conservative" north and "liberal" south.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 9,814 km² (3,789 mi²). 7,089 km² (2,737 mi²) of it is land and 2,725 km² (1,052 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 27.77% water. Four of the Channel Islands--San Miguel Island, Santa Barbara Island, Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island-- are in Santa Barbara County.
Santa Barbara County has a mountainous interior, and several important coastal valleys which contain most of the population. The largest concentration of people is on the south coast--the part of the county south of the Santa Ynez Mountains--which includes the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, and Carpinteria, as well as the unincorporated areas of Hope Ranch , Mission Canyon, Montecito and Isla Vista. North of the mountains are the towns of Santa Ynez, Solvang, Buellton and Lompoc in the Santa Ynez Valley , as well as Vandenberg Air Force Base, where the Santa Ynez River flows out to the sea. North of the Santa Ynez Valley are the cities of Santa Maria and Guadalupe, and the unincorporated towns of Orcutt, Los Olivos and Los Alamos. The principal mountain ranges of the county are the Santa Ynez Mountains in the south, and the San Rafael Mountains and Sierra Madre Mountains in the interior and northeast. Most of the mountainous area is within the Los Padres National Forest , and includes two wilderness areas: the San Rafael Wilderness and the Dick Smith Wilderness. The highest elevation in the county is 6820 feet (2079 m) at Big Pine Mountain in the San Rafaels.
North of the mountains is the arid and sparsely populated Cuyama Valley , portions of which are in San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties. Oil production, ranching, and agriculture dominate the land use in the privately owned parts of the Cuyama Valley; the Los Padres National Forest is adjacent to the south, and regions to the north and northeast are owned by the Bureau of Land Management and the Nature Conservancy.
Air quality in the county, unlike much of southern California, is generally good because of the prevailing winds off of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes in late summer and early autumn there are days which exceed the federal standards for ozone; usually this occurs when there is a low inversion layer under a stagnant air mass, which traps pollutants underneath. In these cases a traveler into the mountains encounters a curious paradox: the temperature rises as altitude increases. On these days the visibility from the higher summits may be more than a hundred miles, while the population on the coastal plain experiences haze and smog.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 399,347 people, 136,622 households, and 89,487 families residing in the county. The population density is 56/km² (146/mi²). There are 142,901 housing units at an average density of 20/km² (52/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 72.72% White, 2.30% Black or African American, 1.20% Native American, 4.09% Asian, 0.18% Pacific Islander, 15.20% from other races, and 4.31% from two or more races. 34.22% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 136,622 households out of which 32.40% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.40% are married couples living together, 10.00% have a female householder with no husband present, and 34.50% are non-families. 24.30% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.40% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.80 and the average family size is 3.33.
In the county the population is spread out with 24.90% under the age of 18, 13.30% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 20.10% from 45 to 64, and 12.70% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 100.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 98.10 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $46,677, and the median income for a family is $54,042. Males have a median income of $37,997 versus $29,593 for females. The per capita income for the county is $23,059. 14.30% of the population and 8.50% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 16.30% of those under the age of 18 and 6.20% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Cities and towns
- Isla Vista
- Lompoc - center of the world's most important commercial flower growing region
- Los Alamos
- Los Olivos
- Mission Canyon
- Mission Hills
- New Cuyama
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Maria
- Santa Ynez
- Toro Canyon
- Vandenberg Air Force Base with spaceport
- Vandenberg Village
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